After two years of helping with the Trump administration’s transition planning and serving as a senior advisor to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Brian Klippenstein will be heading back to his home state of Missouri. He says he’s not sure what’s next in store, except for a long list of projects around his home farm north of Kansas City. Klippenstein has served as executive director of Protect the Harvest, and previously, a key farm hand for two of Missouri’s GOP U.S. senators, Roy Blunt and Kit Bond.

Matt Lohr has been named chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Lohr owns Valley Pike Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and served four years in the Virginia legislature. He resigned his seat in the Virginia House in 2010 to serve as the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services for three years. Lohr has also worked for Farm Credit of the Virginias. In his new role, Lohr will oversee USDA’s conservation efforts through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide. He takes over from Leonard Jordan, who has been the acting chief of NRCS since 2017 and plans to step down in early January. Prior to Jordan’s term as acting chief, Jason Weller held the post before departing to join Land O’Lakes.

The Global Agricultural Productivity report, published annually by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) since 2010, is moving to a new host institution, Virginia Tech University, and GHI is going out of business. Ann Steensland, deputy director at GHI and a co-author of the GAP report, will transition to Virginia Tech as project coordinator for the report, which serves as a benchmark to analyze agricultural production growth. Margaret Zeigler, GHI’s executive director, says she’s planning on traveling to Latin America in the New Year to “dig more deeply into the nexus of sustainability, productivity and agriculture,” before returning to the D.C. region.

John D. Lagemann Sr. was elected chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers at the organization’s recent annual business meeting. Lagemann is the senior vice president for sales and marketing for the Ag & Turf Division (Regions 3 and 4) at Deere & Co. The other officers are Jeffrey Reed, CEO of Reed International/VSS Macropaver (vice chair); Gerald Johnson, president, Farm, Ranch & Agriculture Division at Blount International Inc. (AG chair); Steven Berglund, CEO of Trimble Inc. (CE chair); Todd Stucke, senior VP of marketing for product support and strategic products, Kubota Tractor Corp. (treasurer). To see a full list of AEM board members and members of its AG and CE sector boards, click here.

Senator-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., named Kyle Plotkin, who managed his Senate campaign, as his chief of staff and Daniel Hartman, currently chief of staff in the state attorney general’s office, as his state director. Plotkin earlier was chief of staff and spokesperson for the governor of Louisiana. Hartman was an Army infantry officer in Afghanistan attached to the State Department. He earned a law degree at the University of Missouri and managed Hawley's 2016 campaign to be attorney general.

Travis Cushman joined the American Farm Bureau Federation staff as senior counsel for public policy, focusing on advocacy, counseling, collaboration and education on legal issues. He comes to AFBF from Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, where he represented corporate clients, public utilities and national trade organizations in environmental regulatory litigation and other matters. He earlier practiced for several years in Oklahoma. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Aaron Weber is moving to Washington as a policy adviser in the office of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Weber has been working as a communications and policy adviser to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. The North Dakota State grad will be working under Undersecretary Bill Northey, who heads up USDA’s new Farm Production and Conservation mission area. Weber starts the new job in mid-December.

The FarmHouse fraternity appointed Shane Jacques director of education and leadership development. He spent 10 years with the National FFA Organization in charge of educational programming for state officers. Jacques has a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management from the State University of New York at Cobleskill.

The Agricultural Retailers Association installed Troy Johnson of Wilbur-Ellis as its chairman last week during the closing session of the 2018 ARA Conference and Expo in Boca Raton, Fla. Johnson succeeds John Oster of Morral Companies in the one-year term.

Wayne F. Pryor of Hadensville, Va., has been elected to a seventh two-year term as president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. He currently serves on the board of the American Farm Bureau Federation and as first vice president of Jackson Miss.-based Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. He also is president and chairman of Syracuse, N.Y.-based Countryway Mutual Insurance Co.

Illinois Gov-elect J.B. Pritzker named Colleen Callahan, former state director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois, as co-chair of his “Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee.” Former state Sen. John Sullivan is the other co-chair. Callahan served as the agribusiness director for WMBD in Peoria for 30 years. In 2002, she was elected the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and was inducted into NAFB’s Hall of Fame in 2011. 

American Farmland Trust promoted Nick Herman to vice president of development. For the past 18 months Herman has served as director of development operations, responsible for both membership and individual giving, and now he will now lead AFT’s entire fundraising efforts. AFT says Herman will continue working out of its Washington office.

The Scoular Company says Andrew Kenny will become its chief financial officer effective Jan. 2, based at the company's headquarters in Omaha, Neb. He previously was vice president and CFO of the global trade business for Archer Daniels Midland based in Switzerland. Prior to joining ADM, Kenny served in domestic and international positions with Deloitte & Touche.

J. Miles Reiter is taking the helm at berry-giant Driscoll’s again, with CEO Kevin Murphy planning to leave the position at the end of the year. Reiter is a fourth-generation grower and grandson of a Driscoll’s founder. He will continue to serve as chairman, a post he’s held for more than 30 years. Reiter was CEO for 15 years before Murphy stepped into the position in 2015.

The Soil Health Partnership tapped Maria Bowman, an economist in USDA's Economic Research Service, to be its lead scientist, in charge of building and analyzing a U.S. database of soil health samples from working farms. Her work at ERS focused on adoption of soil health and conservation practices, the economics of antibiotic use in U.S. livestock production and food labeling. Before joining USDA, Bowman was a fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a program assistant for the Woods Hole Research Center studying farm system economics in Brazil's Amazon.

Agriculture Secretary Perdue this week appointed three producers and three industry representatives to serve on the Peanut Standards Board. Representing the Southeast Region (Alabama, Georgia and Florida) are John Carl Sanders, an Alabama producer, and Ann D. King, an industry rep from Georgia. Representatives for the Southwest Region (Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico) are Michael Newhouse, a Texas producer, and Shelly Witt Nutt an industry rep also from Texas. The Virginia/Carolina Region will be represented by Donny Lee Lassiter, a North Carolina producer, and James Carlton Gray Jr., an industry rep from North Carolina. The appointments will fill member seats that became vacant when the current terms expired on June 30, 2018. All appointees will serve the remainder of three-year terms ending June 30, 2021.

Deere & Co. is realigning some of its leadership positions in response to the planned retirement of Jean Giles effective Jan. 11. Giles is leaving Deere after 38 years of service. He currently serves as senior vice president of power systems, worldwide parts services, advanced technology and engineering, and global supply management and logistics. As a result of Giles planned departure, Jim Field, president of the Construction & Forestry Division, will assume additional responsibility for the John Deere Power Systems organization; Marc Howze, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, will assume additional responsibility for global supply management and logistics, worldwide parts services, and aviation; Mary Jones, senior vice president and general counsel, will assume responsibility for worldwide public affairs; and Mark von Pentz, a president of Deere’s Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division, will assume additional responsibility for advanced technology and engineering.

Dawson Ahalt, the first chairman of USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board, died Dec. 1. He was 82. A career civil servant, he was acting or deputy assistant secretary for economics under several administrations, Democratic and Republican, and served USDA overseas as agricultural counselor in Rome and Buenos Aires. He created the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report and the interagency process to generate the first USDA-wide publication with world and U.S. commodity forecasts. In retirement, he lived in Frederick, Md.

Agricultural economist Tim Josling, one of the most influential thinkers in agricultural trade policy and negotiations, died last week after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 78. He is credited with having developed the concept of the Producer Subsidy Equivalent, which established a new basis for comparing across countries the nature of government support to agriculture. Educated in England, Canada and at Michigan State, he taught at the London School of Economics and the University of Reading before joining the (former) Food Research Institute at Stanford University in 1978. Josling was a founding member of the International Policy Council on Food and Agricultural Trade, president of the UK Agricultural Economics Society, a visiting scholar at the Institute for International Economics and a fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association.

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